Ranking the Top 10 Defenses in College Football Heading into Week 11

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Ranking the Top 10 Defenses in College Football Heading into Week 11

Scott Olmos-USA SPORTS Today

It is often said that offense wins games, but defense wins championships. In college football, this phrase remains true. During their four-year reign of terror from 2009-12, Alabama's stifling defense consistently held their unfortunate opponents to limited amounts of offense. Since the Crimson Tide's defensive showing was so spectacular, they were able to win three national championships in that four-year span.

When you compare the talent of the top 10 defense-minded football teams nationwide to nearly every other team in the country, there's no competition. These teams stand out in categories like rushing yards allowed, third-down conversion percentage, scoring defense and total yards allowed. When opposing offenses face teams with run-stuffing defensive tackles or ball-hawking safeties, they need to buckle down in an effort to strategize how they will maneuver around these cunning defenders.

If teams don't have a spectacular defense, I wish them good luck posting a winning record. Defense is the key to success. Defense wins championships. If teams are looking to be successful, they need to prioritize their recruiting efforts on playmaking defenders. While having a game-changing quarterback who can spread the field like butter on toast can be nice, possessing a linebacker that lives for third-down stops is vital.

The top 10 defenses in college football going into Week 11 know what it takes to win. They have talented and experienced defenders that will stop at nothing to prevent a red-zone touchdown.

With no further ado, let's take a look the top 10 defensive teams in the nation going into Week 11.

Sam Horn is a Seattle Seahawks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @samhorn7 or add him to your network on Google.

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10. Oklahoma Sooners

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Although they allowed 41 points in Baylor's win on Thursday night, the Oklahoma Sooners shouldn't be disheartened. Defensive end Charles Tapper is 66th in the nation with 4.5 sacks on the season. The Sooners rank 10th nationally in total defense (313.4 yards allowed) and passing yards allowed (179.5). With their defense struggling against Baylor Thursday night, the Sooners could drop out of this list soon enough.

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9. Florida Gators

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators have won four of eight games this season. While that's not an impressive statistic by itself, the Gators' defense ranks 11th in the nation in scoring defense. They allow about 315 yards per game on average. The fact that Florida ranks 90th in the nation with 13 sacks is why the Gators aren't ranked higher on this list.

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8. Ohio State Buckeyes

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Running backs haven't had much luck against Ohio State's stingy defense this season. The Buckeyes rank fourth in the nation in rushing yards allowed (88.2 yards per game). They have allowed just under three yards per carry to opposing running backs this season. To top it all off, Ohio State is second in the nation with two blocked punts. With Illinois, Indiana and Michigan left on the schedule, the Buckeyes' stellar defense should be enough to propel them to a BCS bowl game at the season's end.

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7. Florida State Seminoles

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Many college football analysts agree that Florida State's secondary is one of the best in the nation. It's hard to disagree with that notion. The Seminoles rank second in the country in passing yards allowed per game (158.5). Florida State has only allowed 13 touchdowns on the year. Keep in mind that the Seminoles' defense had the difficult task of holding Clemson's quarterback, Tajh Boyd, to just over 200 passing yards when the two squared off on Oct. 19. Boasting an unblemished record, Florida State should be able to find themselves in a BCS bowl game in January.

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6. Cincinnati Bearcats

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bearcats' defense does not give out free passes. When it comes to allowing first downs to opposing offenses, Cincinnati is one of the best in the nation. They rank fifth in the nation with only 121 first downs allowed all season long. The Bearcats are also ranked fourth in the nation in total defense (280 yards allowed per game.) This team has one of the more talented rosters in recent years and should prove as a tough opponent for the remainder of the season.

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5. Wisconsin Badgers

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The Wisconsin Badgers have one of the best defenses in the land this season. Devin Smith is tied for ninth in the nation with four interceptions. That's something the redshirt senior can add to his resume. The Badgers have only given up an average of 15.0 points per game so far this season and show no signs of slowing down. Wisconsin ranks sixth in the nation in total yards allowed per game (285.5). With an impressive defensive unit, there's no telling how good the Badgers will be in the coming years.

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4. Virginia Tech Hokies

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Opposing quarterbacks loathe Virginia Tech's defense. They despise the Hokies. It's no wonder, as the Hokies are first in the nation in passing yards allowed per game (150.6). One of the Hokies' cornerbacks, Kendall Fuller, is fourth in the nation with five interceptions. It's partly because of Fuller that the Hokies rank first in the nation in interceptions (17). New offensive strategy against Virginia Tech: run the ball every chance you get.

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3. Alabama Crimson Tide

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Nick Saban should be proud of his Crimson Tide team. Not only have they won an unprecedented three national titles in the last four years, but they're also first in the nation this year in scoring defense (9.8 points allowed per game). Alabama's defense might be the key reason why they could win yet another national championship this year.

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2. Louisville Cardinals

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While Teddy Bridgewater might garner most of the attention, it's Louisville's defense that is keeping them alive. The Cardinals' defense has been outstanding this year, allowing just under 245 yards of offense every game. When, and if, their opponents reach the red zone, they might as well kiss their chances of scoring a touchdown goodbye. Louisville is fifth in the nation in red zone defense, allowing opposing offenses to score 63 percent of the time. That is the equivalent to a D for you students out there.

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1. Michigan State Spartans

Mark Weisman-USA TODAY Sports

The amount of rushing yards Michigan State's defense allows per game is seemingly microscopic. The Spartans' stingy defense only gives up 1.62 yards per carry, which ranks first in the nation. Although they don't have any sack aficionados on their team, the Spartans allow just over 210 yards of offense per game. That's saying something when their opponents are Michigan, Penn State and offensive juggernaut Ohio State, to name a few. In an ever-more competitive collegiate football environment, the Spartans can safely say they boast the best defense in the nation ... for now.

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